“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
Members remain standing while the Gospel is read. After the Gospel is read, members kiss the Gospel and are seated. After an appropriate period of reflection, members are invited to share their own lights from the Holy Spirit in relation to this Gospel passage. The secretary synthesizes reflections into a brief summary for the team.
(30 minutes) See monthly schedule
The Better Part
Consider privately reflecting on the corresponding chapter from The Better Part by Fr. John Bartunek, LC, ThD during the week.
Unit #299 – “Son Rise” – John 20:1-10
“It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’ So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead. The disciples then went home again.”
“Come then, all you nations of men defiled by sin, receive the forgiveness of sin. For it is I who am your forgiveness, the pasch of your salvation, the lamb slain for you; it is I who am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, you r light, your salvation, your king. I am bringing you to the heights of heaven, I will show you the Father who is from all eternity, I will raise you up with my right hand.” St Melito of Sardis
“So on Sunday we all come together. This is the first day, on which God transformed darkness and matter and made the world; the day on which Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.” St Justin Martyr
Christ as Lord
Easter Sunday, when the liturgy presents this passage to the Church, brings Holy Week to its glorious climax. Indeed, this week, which ranks highest among the periods of the liturgical year, is made “holy” precisely by the Lord’s resurrection. Imagine how a Good Friday without Easter Sunday would alter the Christian message: Jesus would be no more than another Socrates. His teaching would perhaps be remembered, but his outlandish claims to be the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Light of the World would be invalidated. The Apostles would have remained passive and frightened, and the Church would never have come into existence. The Eucharist would be, at best, a mere myth, an empty ritual. The martyrs, virgins, and other saints who have flooded these last twenty centuries with such revolutionary holiness would have remained mere citizens of the earth…
Jesus Christ was Lord of heaven. By his resurrection he has conquered this fallen world’s reigning powers of death. Now he is Lord of heaven and earth; the Kingdom of God is close at hand, among us, in fact, through the Church, which is the Risen Lord’s body. There is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins, risen for our redemption, and present through his Church. If now we embrace him there, he will make sure that we rise to embrace him forever in heaven.
Christ as Teacher
St John’s attention to detail is meaningful. He records how he himself ran to the empty tomb faster than St Peter, but waited for Peter to go in first. His reward: “he saw and believed” – faith. What could these minutiae have to teach us? Peter was the leader of the Twelve Apostles. Christ had dubbed him the rock upon which he would build his Church. At the Last Supper he had commanded him to strengthen his brethren in the faith. Soon after his resurrection he specially commissioned him to feed and tend his sheep. St John, the “beloved disciple”, follows Peter into the empty tomb instead of rushing in ahead of him, and he receives the gift of faith; he comes to believe in the risen Lord.
The Church is not a conglomerate of individual believers all living out their own inspirations from the Holy Spirit. The Church is the unified Body of Christ and the organized People of God. It is the New Israel, and like the old Israel, it has a structure, and God has chosen to work through that structure. When we responsibly live out our membership in the Body of Christ, we stay in step with the Church, under the guidance of Peter’s successor, the Pope. We neither lag behind, nor run too far ahead, and in that way Christ pours out upon us a strong and vibrant faith, just as he did for his beloved disciple, John.
Christ as Friend
He rose for us. He came to earth for us, he suffered for us, and he rose for us. Nothing in Christ was for himself. Nothing. He is all love, all self-giving, all obedience to the Father’s will for the sake of our salvation. He rose so that we might rise with him. In his resurrection we see what he is preparing for us. How eagerly he looks forward to that day when he will “wipe away every tear” (Revelation 7:17) from our eyes and welcome us into the fullness of life that is his eternal kingdom! The more faithful we are to him now, the more we will share in his glory when he raises us from the dead. Good friends fill our lives on earth with joy and comfort; only Christ can offer a joy that will keep growing forever.
Christ: I know it’s hard for you to feel the power and the joy of my Resurrection. You still need to grow in your faith and humility to be able to feel it. But you don’t need to feel it in order to believe in me. Think of my resurrection often. The more you turn the eyes of your heart towards it, the more its light will illumine and warm your heart, until your whole life is gradually bathed in its power and joy. And I have given you a reminder – the sunrise. Each day the sun comes up and brings light to the world, just as I rose from the darkness of death in order to conquer it forever with the light of my life.
Christ in my Life
I believe that you have risen from the dead, Lord, though I still tend to live as if this life were all there is – but you know that in my heart I am seeking your will and your Kingdom. Help me to seek them as I ought to. Why do I keep thinking that the broken chards of happiness that sparkle in this fallen world can have any meaning – for me or anyone – apart from a living friendship with you? …
Have mercy on your Church, Lord. In this day and age it is so hard to trust in authority, even in your divinely established authority. But I want to. Teach me to discern your presence and your will in the words and indications of the Pope, as all the saints have done. Teach me to see you in him, and to love you by serving the Church through obeying him. May I too become a saint…
I know that you lived your life for my sake, for my salvation and for my instruction – and to comfort me, so that I never have to suffer alone. I want to live my life for your sake, building up your Kingdom, obeying your will, making you known and loved by everyone around me. What else would be a worthy response to all that you have done for me? With the love of your heart, inflame my heart…
Questions for Discussion
What struck you most in this passage? What did you notice that you hadn’t noticed before?
What might the emotional and intellectual reaction of the Apostles and other disciples have been as they gradually began to understand that Jesus had risen from the dead?
Why would Christ have instituted a Church to mediate his saving grace, instead of just inspiring individuals directly?
If a non-believing acquaintance came up to you and sincerely wanted to know why you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, what would you tell them?